Is it illegal to bike on the sidewalk? The answer depends on which state you’re in.
Anywhere we go, there will always be disagreement among people. That seems to be the case with lawmakers on their take on sidewalk cycling as well.
Today, we’ll discuss which states ban cycling on sidewalks.
You’ll discover the reason behind this verdict. You might even agree to keep bikes off sidewalks for good!
In some states, you can only ride a bike on the road with other vehicles. Cycling on the sidewalk is illegal in the following places:
1 – Alabama
You can only ride bikes on the right-hand side of the road, in the same direction as cars.
Children aged 16 and below can bike on roads but they’re required by law to wear helmets.
2 – Georgia
Cycling on the sidewalk is illegal in Georgia.
Moreover, if you’re riding a bike on the road, you need to stay as close to the right as possible.
3 – Kentucky
Bicycles get treated the same as vehicles, except if there’s a bicycle lane. People on bikes may use the shoulder of a highway instead of getting on the main road.
4 – Maryland
All cyclists, even children, have the same responsibilities as motorists on the road. They should follow traffic lights and know when to yield, stop, or overtake other cars and bikes.
5 – New Hampshire
You can only ride bikes on the road, and you’re required to use the correct hand signals when turning corners.
6 – North Dakota
In addition to banning biking on the sidewalk, you’re also banned from letting more than one person ride the bike.
You can’t bring packages that will prevent you from holding the bike’s handles with both hands.
7 – Wisconsin
Bikers should ride at least three feet away from the curb.
Moreover, you’re not allowed to swerve around parked or moving cars.
8 – Wyoming
You can’t ride bikes on sidewalks, but you can attach a trailer to your bike. It’s legal to take this bike trailer onto the roadway.
Some states leave it up to local governments and cities to make laws on sidewalk cycling. It means that it can be legal in certain areas of the state and illegal in others.
In these cases, you’ll have to visit the local government’s website to find out if you can ride a bike on the sidewalk.
Here’s the list of states with no laws on biking on the sidewalk.
If you didn’t find your state on the list, that means you can bike on the sidewalk there!
Although, you should remember that while it’s legal, there are still some rules to follow.
In most cases, you’ll have to give the right-of-way to pedestrians and slow down in front of stores. You also have to stop at crossings the same way a pedestrian would.
Isn’t it safer for cyclists on the sidewalk?
Well, no. Banning biking on sidewalks makes more sense than you realize. Here’s why.
According to Phoenix’s Bicycle Collision Summary, riding on the sidewalk is riskier than cycling on the roadway.
The researchers found that 90% of bike-to-car collisions happen because the biker is on the sidewalk. The reason is that car drivers don’t pay attention to bicyclists if they’re not on the road.
When a cyclist crosses an intersection from the sidewalk, it may cause a collision with a car that’s turning the curb.
This goes to show that if you’re on the sidewalk, you have to stop at the same time pedestrians would!
Not only do people on bikes lack awareness of their surroundings, but they also sometimes don’t think about their safety.
In the same Phoenix summary, they found that 60% of cyclists on the sidewalk ride against the flow of traffic. This is a disastrous mistake on the biker’s part.
Car drivers can’t anticipate bikes coming from a sidewalk, much less a bike coming from the opposite direction. It’s why states who ban riding on the sidewalk prefer it if bikers follow the rules for vehicles.
Also, even if a head injury happens in 70-80% of fatal accidents, 82% of cyclists don’t wear helmets! Biking on the sidewalk gives them a false sense of security that they don’t wear safety gear.
Bikers will have difficulty maneuvering through people on the sidewalk. That’s because it isn’t wide enough to accommodate bikes.
Most sidewalks are four to five feet wide, just the right size for two pedestrians walking side-by-side.
To add to the sidewalk’s narrowness, any uneven bumps or cracks on the pavement can cause an accident.
You might think that hitting a pedestrian with a bike can’t be that bad, but that’s not the case! Bikers feel unsafe with cars, but pedestrians can look at bikes the same way.
Collisions between bikes and people can cause severe injuries like broken bones. In some cases, it may even be fatal.
Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way on sidewalks. That means they don’t have an obligation to step aside to let bikers through.
For states where biking on sidewalks is illegal, there’s usually one exception. That is, children.
Kids up to 13 years old don’t have the right motor skills to cycle on roadways. Because of this, some states may allow kids to bike on the sidewalk.
To do so, they’re required to wear helmets at all times. Their bikes should also have wheels that are no bigger than 26 inches in diameter.
If you have other modes of transportation, can you use them on the sidewalk? Let’s see!
Most states treat electric bikes the same way as regular bikes. However, you can’t use them on the sidewalk if you’ve tampered with their motors and speed.
You can ride scooters on the sidewalk in Louisiana, Arizona, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Iowa. For other states, it’s best to use them on the roadway.
Dirt bikes are for off-roading. It’s illegal to use them on the road and the sidewalk as well!
In most states, people on skateboards count as pedestrians. There could be some bans on sidewalks along major roads though!
Horses are illegal on sidewalks because of the danger they pose to pedestrians. Yet, it may come as a surprise that you can ride a horse on roadways if you follow vehicle laws.
6 – Mini Bikes
Mini bikes are the same as dirt bikes. They’re for off-road use and are illegal on sidewalks.
Quads are not allowed on both sidewalks and roadways. You may push it along streets or sidewalks with the power off.
Expect a hefty fine if you ride your golf cart on the sidewalk. You can, however, use it on the road.
No, you can’t use go-karts on sidewalks. They’re usable on the road, but you’re banned from racing on the streets with them!
Sidewalks are off-limits to lawnmowers in most states.
You can’t drive them on the street in cities, but you may be able to do it in rural areas.
Is it illegal to bike on the sidewalk?
Plenty of states allow it, but there are a few that ban cycling on sidewalks.
We know now that it’s because those on sidewalks are more likely to get into accidents than bikers on roadways.
Do you think that cyclists should still be allowed on sidewalks? We’d be happy to know your thoughts!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.